Police in Birmingham have urged caution after a group of 400 residents set up a vigilante crime group.
The city has recently been blighted by a wave of stabbings, shootings and murders, leading to the formation of ‘We Stand Determined’, who are working to report any dangers the community may face.
The group’s organisers describe themselves as ‘vigilantes with a twist’ but police say they do no sanction unofficial organisations.
A spokesman for West Midlands Police said officers were aware of multiple groups but advised members to join police-approved Streetwatch programmes instead.
Formed on social media just three weeks ago, We Stand Determined was set up after an unsuccessful petition to get more police in the area.
Organisers Wayne, Tracy and Michael founded the group after discovering a friend had been attacked in his home in Birmingham by thieves armed with hammers and now organise twice-weekly patrols across the city.
They insist the group is non-violent and seeks to work in partnership with the police, not against it, but think crime in the UK is getting out of hand and want to act as a new line of defence for the community.
Solihull-based college lecturer Wayne, 47, who does not wish to reveal his surname for fears over his safety, said: ‘The way our group started, and the reaction we’ve had, has showed us how much local communities need groups like us to fill in the gaps the authorities simply don’t have the funding for.
‘There has been a recent spate of crime in Birmingham recently and Solihull in particular has fallen victim to an increase of just under 1,500 more cases so far this year.
‘People needed someone to turn to, someone who will listen and visit them in their home if a constituent is fearful for their own safety.
‘We’re vigilantes, but we’re vigilantes with a twist, working within the law and not against it.
‘Our group is a central place for the local community to come together to log crimes, comment and help stop crime in the area.’
Tracy said We Stand Determined is not against West Midlands Police, as they understand the force can only do what they can with the funding they are given.
But the group say this doesn’t solve the problem of reduced Bobbies on the beat – so they were forced to themselves.
They soon hope to grow bigger and have representatives based in every area of the country.
Tracy, 48, said: ‘We stress to our members that if they see something, they should notify the police first.
‘We would like to join up with the police, but we want to be able to make our own decisions on where the help is really needed, and not where the police tell us to be.’